Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

This is not going to be an opinion piece on whether or not one should participate in the shopping experience of Black Friday, instead it is going to be a look at the season that Black Friday rings in … Christmas!

Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. I look forward to it all year and love everything surrounding it -  cold, snow, lights, gifts, and some great books for read-alouds and just for fun. There are also a number of movies I have to watch again each year because they symbolize everything Christmas is about or at least are highly entertaining.

In this first section I want to mention a few read-alouds my family enjoys:

1. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson - this is a fun seven chapter read that is funny and hart-warming. The Herdmans with their cigar smoking and swearing are hard to forget characters who entertain each time we read it.

2. A Christmas Carol  by Charles Dickens - While many kids know the movie, oftentimes they haven't been introduced to the rich language the novel holds. It is a great read-aloud and a good reminder on what the Christmas season is all about.

In this next section I want to share a few favorite Christmas movies:

1. It's a Wonderful Life - this is a favorite for so many reason…I love George Bailey and his reluctant heroism. This is always a holiday season must.

2. A Muppet Christmas Carol - this hilarious take on Dickens classic is worth it again and again. Rizzo the Rat and Gonzo are a great entertaining duo as they relate such a classic tale.

3. Holiday Inn & A White Christmas - These movies relate to one another and are a fun movie-marathon night. Bing Crosby's voice is associated with Christmas for me and I can never get enough over the holidays.

Are there any books or movies your family loves for the holidays?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Author Highlight: Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith is an author I have mentioned in previous posts because he has become one of my absolute favorites. I watch his website ( to keep track of any new books coming out so I can be sure to get on the waiting list at my public library.

It was about 8 years ago that I stumbled upon his series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and I haven't looked back. I love moments of serendipity, when you are walking the stacks in the library and discover a diamond…a book that becomes a favorite. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was just such a book and I quickly read through every book available in the series and moved on to his other series: Corduroy Mansions, Isabel Dalhousie, 44 Scotland Street, and Portuguese Irregualer Verbs. I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one.

McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He became law professor both in Botswana and Edinburgh. His experience in Africa and in Scotland is evident in his writing, which makes for rich and unique works and characters. It is his characters that I am most in love with. He is able to create characters that you have to laugh at and sometimes with, but who also teach about life and offer wisdom albeit witty and a bit sarcastic. The characters are oftentimes over the top in some respect, which helps to bring out a piece of human nature we all notice and can appreciate.

As an 80's kids, I am a Seinfeld kid. Seinfeld first aired in 1989 and ran until 1998, and it is the "show about nothing." So why am I mentioning Seinfeld? Because Alexander McCall Smith's writing reminds a lot of Seinfeld. Both the books and the show take human quirks in thinking and behavior and create over-the-top experiences and situations that a person can't help but see themselves in and laugh. Life is better when we all can laugh at ourselves!

If you have a chance this Thanksgiving holiday to relax, I encourage you to pick up a book from Alexander McCall Smith…or put on a Seinfeld episode - I promise you will smile and that is something we can all be thankful for.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I have been noticing the trend on Facebook, in stores, in conversations, etc. of voicing thankfulness, so I thought I would jump in the mix.

I found this little excerpt on the "Psychology Today" website:

"Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for  what one has—as opposed to, say, a consumer-oriented emphasis  on what one wants or needs—and is currently receiving a great deal of attention  as a facet of positive psychology. Gratitude is what gets poured into the glass to make it half full. Studies show that gratitude not only can be deliberately cultivated but can increase levels of well-being and happiness among those who  do cultivate it.  In addition, grateful thinking—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy."

(You can find it here:

Apparently there is something in this whole thankfulness business! I am usually the last one to jump on bandwagon ideas, but this is one I can get behind. So here goes a few things I am thankful for:
  1. My family (who appreciates and supports my love of books and libraries:-))
  2. Friends 
  3. Books
  4. Libraries
  5. Snow
What things are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Elementary, my dear Watson"

I have already shared with you my love of a good mystery and mentioned Sherlock Holmes, but after a recent discovery I felt that I needed to mention him again.

My family is a Netflix family. We enjoy the $7.99 a month that offers a great variety of movies and T.V. shows we wouldn't otherwise catch and all commercial free. We have decided that because our T.V. watching habits are minimal, it doesn't pay to have cable or anything other such expensive offering. Instead we get whatever channels come through the antenna (PBS is a family favorite!) and Netflix. Once in a while in the evenings after a frightfully long day of busy in whatever form, my husband and I like to find a good show to unwind with.

It was on such a crazy day that we discovered the BBC's Sherlock Holmes. First off you have to understand that I love myself a good British drama…it's the humor, dry and ironic. Second off they take a classic character and recreate him and his good friend Watson in 21st century London. It is masterfully done! Last, the cinematography is artistic and unique. We have not exhausted the series by any means but we are looking forward to our next evening of unwinding. I have been very impressed with how they have been able to keep the heart and soul of Sir Author Conan Doyle's writings and characters and yet bring all of it into our world. It is genius.

So, if you are interested in a night of unwinding with a good series, I suggest you give Sherlock Holmes a try!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Learning from Russia

I have to confess my love of Russian writers - particularly Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. My favorite Russian novels are Anna Karenina and Crime and Punishment, although War and Peace is quite amazing too. Why are these my favorites? Well, some of it may have to do with first reading them in high school when I was full of teenage angst and found myself within the deep emotional angst of the characters. It was also a time when I was making decisions and choices that could alter my future course significantly and it helped to see the ultimate destination of the characters' particular choices, both good and bad. I must confess though that even as an adult I still refer to these novels and use them in teachable moments with well…just about everyone who is willing to listen!

I would like to meet the person who isn't affected by the parallel stories of Anna Karenina and Konstantin Levin. Anna - beautiful, intelligent, extraordinary - but choice after choice after choice leads to destruction. Levin - ordinary and a bit of an outsider - but his choices lead to prospering and love. Or who isn't anguished along with Rodion Raskolnikov as he withers, morally and physically, because of his choice. The Russian writers seem to grab a hold of human emotion and character and ream everything from them. They create characters whose depths no know bounds. They also speak to social conditions and how they can alter choices and lives simply by existing. The plight of women, poverty, war, etc. affect and alter lives. Each one of us live in a real world with social situations that exist, whether positive or negative, that, when combined with our person - character, moral bearing, beliefs, etc. - create our scenario. This is what I love about Russian writers: they write about life with depth and emotion.

I encourage you to grab one of these novels and enjoy! I hope you too will see yourself in the novel and learn something new.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hallo-reads for Little People

So, considering that I wrote a post of great Hallo-reads for the big people (adults that is), I thought it would only be fair to write one for the little people (also known as children). I know that my children love to celebrate holidays with a great book, and in our house we have created traditions that include special books that we read aloud and enjoy every year. It is a great way to encourage literacy while building fun traditions that will never be forgotten! That being said here are a few of our favorite books and one of our favorite movies as well.

What says Halloween better than bats? In this fun book children are introduced the the wonderfulness of the Public Library as they peruse it through the bored bats who find the open window.
This is a great fall book that makes math and science fun! Come along with the class as they follow their question to the end and discover that small things have a lot of surprises.

In this fun and colorful pop-up book, children get to follow the character as he searches for a monster - the exact one he wants.

The search for the perfect Halloween costume is a challenge for Tucker the pup. In this entertaining book, children are invited along as Tucker searches for a halloween costume that isn't cute but spooky!

Every child can relate to Little Mummy who wants to play another game of hide-and-seek with Mummy. This is a great bedtime read for any little one.

I had to throw in this classic - always a fun watch that includes popcorn. A great way to relax and create family memories.

I would love to hear of any others you would add to this list. What would you suggest for good Hallo-reads?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Most Famous Book

So one of my library school friends sent this little bit of information around and I thought it was interesting enough to share.

Click on the link above and you will see a visual representative of the most famous book from every state. New York's is The Great Gatsby - Minnesota's is Main Street. Take some time to check it out and see how many you have read. Next time you are planning a trip out of state, grab their most famous book and learn a bit about the state before you go!

Monday, October 21, 2013


Halloween (and apparently winter :-)) is upon us. I know that many different families equals many different traditions when it comes to any holiday or celebration. In my family Halloween or more specifically trick-or-treating is not an option: it is a mission. My husband is as much a part of it as the children and has "coached" them on how to be the most productive which remaining polite and gracious. He even gets the dog involved carrying a pack for candy overflow. It is quite an ordeal and honestly a lot of fun.

Along with the joy of trick-or-treating, Halloween brings the opportunity for "ghost," mystery, and all-things-frightening stories. I am a sucker for mysteries myself. I love to snuggle up with a good cozy and delve into a mystery murder with a memorable character that I can't help but love. I remember fondly the winter that I was expecting my first child and living in a new city, I purposely found an apartment near the local library and steadily read every single Agatha Christie novel ever written. Ever since that winter I have unconsciously gravitated toward cozies to fill the cold days. What books do you love for the winter months?

Here are some of my favorite cozies:

 Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce is a fun, quirky, and very memorable character. I stumbled unto this series my first winter in Minnesota and was not disappointed. Now, I wait for the next one to some out!

 Agatha Raisin, M.C. Beaton's character, is either loved or hated but never forgotten. I personally find her gruff ways and envy of youth to be charming and even insightful. This is another series I am always look for.

This is an Agatha Christie favorite for me. If you like this genre at all, grab this one!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Back from the Dead...or Sick Bed

So for the past week I have had the experience of cleaning my car because of my three year old getting sick, getting a phone call right before I was supposed to teach to pick up my 7 year old from school "immediately" because he was vomiting, having my 8 year old come down with the same thing, and coming down with it myself on Sunday. Needless to say, I have had my fill and am ready to get back into a semblance of normalcy. All of that to say (and I hope it wasn't too much information) that the power of words once again rose to the top. How? I will share...

On Saturday night I spent a restless, tossing and turning night because I was coming down with the stomach bug that had made its way through my family (except my husband, not sure how he avoided it). It was awful. I have not been that sick for at least three years and it was absolutely miserable. All of Sunday I basically spent in bed thankful for a husband who easily managed everything even the laundry! In the midst of a long Sunday my wonderful 8 year old, who shares my absolute love for books and words and poetry, climbed up beside me in bed with a stack of our favorite poems and simply read to me. It was a special time and a great reminder of how soothing words, especially well-thought out words, and poems can be.

She read Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life" - "Tell me not, in mournful numbers, life is but an empty dream. For the soul is dead that slumbers, and things are not what they seem." and my favorite stanza, "Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, was not spoken of the soul."

She read Wallace's "Thirteen ways of looking at a Blackbird" - "I do not know which to prefer, the beauty of inflections or the beauty of innuendoes, the blackbird whistling or just after."

She read Whitman's "Song of Myself" - "Trippers and askers surround me, people I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation. The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors, old and new; My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, cures, the real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love; The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations; Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events; These come to me days and nights and go from me again; But they are not the Me myself."

She read and she read and she read and I was lulled into sleep and reminded again and again that my sickness was momentary, it was not the end, it was all about perspective, and it was not the Me myself. So in the midst of something not so great I was able to see great. So, I hope you too find solace in a well written word - what are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Little Positivity...

The government shutdown has, if nothing else, garnered a lot of opinions so I will not add mine to the mix. Regardless, if I did add an opinion (which I promise I won't) it would not be the opinion of SLFL in any way. So, in the midst of strong opinions and sometimes even stronger tempers, I want to add a bit of positivity to the mix.

Remember this book:

The main character Winston Smith is dealing with a government that doesn't even allow for independent thinking! The Party and its omniscient leader Big Brother are always watching and ever ready to "correct" a mishap. The Party controls everything and is even in the process of implementing a new language Newspeak that attempts to stamp out political rebellion by removing any words that are associated with it. Winston's job is to alter historical records to satisfy the Party. Winston begins on a journey of independent thought and a love affair only to eventually...(wait I won't tell you, I don't want to spoil it for anyone).

Or how about this book:

In this book we encounter a fireman who doesn't stop fires but rather starts them. Guy Montag's great mission in life is to burn books. The society in which he lives does not read books or appreciate nature or think independently, rather the people spend their time in front of screens and in superficial conversations. Guy has a few interactions and book pilfering experiences that cause him to question the status quo and seek more information. He is eventually betrayed and hunted and...(once again I won't tell).

What's the positivity in all of that? Well, for starters, we lived in a society that allows books and fights censorship. We are allowed independent thought. We are provided with access to all kinds of books and information through our public library system. We are not "being watched" and subjected to fear for having a personal opinion. We are allowed to become better and an education that continues to expand our minds and our hearts. I hope in the midst of our current situation you are able to keep a sense of the positive! Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Good Read Aloud

I read a book about a year ago entitled The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. The book was based on a promise Alice and her father made - to read for at least 15 minutes together everyday. So up until college and distance made the promise too difficult to keep, Alice and her father made time for him to read aloud to her every single day (You can read more about here story here: Reading aloud is an important and beneficial activity that sometimes is pushed aside in favor of other activities or simply because of busyness. Reading aloud is even beneficial for older children and even teens!
According to the American Library Association (ALA) website (, reading aloud to children includes these many benefits:
  1. Children's self esteem grows as they experience the security of having a parent or other caring person read aloud with them.
  2. Children experience increased communication with parents and other family members.
  3. Children are introduced to new concepts such as colors, shapes, numbers, and alphabet, in a fun, age appropriate way.
  4. Children build listening skills, vocabulary, memory, and language skills.
  5. Children develop imagination and creativity.
  6. Children learn information about the world around them.
  7. Children develop individual interests in special subjects like dinosaurs, cats, or cars.
  8. Children learn positive behavior patterns and social values.
  9. Children learn positive attitudes towards themselves and others.
A huge benefit of reading aloud according to Jim Trelease, author of Read Aloud Handbooks, is the impact that reading books has on a child's vocabulary. According to Jim, "It's long established in science and research: the child who comes to school with a large vocabulary does better than the child who comes to school with little familiarity with words and a low vocabulary" ( In his interview, Trelease is specifically referring to younger children and readying them for school, but as a professor working with college students I can verify that those who are readers are those who do better overall. Reading and reading aloud is beneficial to all ages and a large vocabulary is helpful for college students as well as those just starting out. Reading also increases attention span, encourages a child to "experience" difficult situations, and broadens knowledge of the world and people. Every day I begin my classes (college students, mind you) by reading a selection from a novel, a poem, or a great speech. I find that if I can whet their appetite for reading and books, then I can whet their appetite for learning in general. If I can create life-long learners - readers - I have done my job.
I also read aloud with my kids at home and even my husband! Right now my husband and I are reading through The Great Gatsby in anticipation of getting the recently released movie. Through the years I have found some read aloud favorites, books that seem to have been written for reading aloud. The language is mesmerizing and the characters memorial. Poems are also great for read aloud because of their structure and language. So, that being said, I am going to leave you with a few of my favorite read alouds, what books would you add to the list?
  1. The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
  3. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  4.  Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  5. The Wizard of Oz (and all of the other Oz books!) by L. Frank Baum
  6.  Poems of Robert Frost
  7. Poems of Emily Dickinson

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Be A Rebel - Read a Banned Book

The American Library Association (ALA) annually hosts Banned Books Week that celebrates the freedom to read and brings awareness to censorship. The week reveals the importance of open access to information. Or as the ALA states it, "Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular." Banned Books Week started in 1982 and has become an annual event for libraries, bookstores, and others across the country. 

Banned books was not something I had necessarily put much thought into as a youngster and, while I do "censor" what books I let my children choose to read, I was surprised once I started reading through the compilation of banned books over the years, which titles were actually there. Some of the books listed are some of my favorites! Now, does this mean there are not books I choose not to read - absolutely not. But the idea behind not banning books is exactly that - choice. I am allowed the freedom to choose what I want to read and this freedom, this open access to information, is a wonderful and staggering privilege. It is understood that "knowledge is power" (who said that anyway...G.I. Joe?) and I try to keep this in mind each time I open up a book. Books truly are "frigates" as Dickinson said, and every person should be able to choose what "lands far away" to travel to.

That being said here are some Banned Books for you to check out, if you so desire (you may recognize some of these titles...from past book clubs choices or the current class offering at SLFL):

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
6. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
7. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
8. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
9. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
10. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

If you want to learn more about Banned Books Week check out the ALA web page here: or the Banned Books Website here:

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Author Highlight - Mary Sharratt

I recently heard an author's name that I had never read before - Mary Sharratt. I am not sure how it works for other folks but when I hear a new author mentioned the first thing I do is go onto my local public library's web page, find the author, and request every book by that particular author that the library owns. I did the same with Sharratt. One of the bonuses of Sharratt is her affiliation with Minnesota - she is originally from Minnesota and some of her works highlight places and histories particular to Minnesota and especially the Twin Cities (Minneapolis & St. Paul). As a non-native of Minnesota who has transplanted here I thought I could get a two in one deal, read a new author and learn some Minnesota history through historical fiction.

Sharratt's work deal with women…female heroines, female protagonist, and strong women from history. She is a good writer who is able to create characters that are robust while weaving a story that captivates. The first two books I read, The Real Minerva and Summit Avenue, are historical fiction novels that, while not based on a true story, are based on historical facts and time period in Minnesota. Illuminations is based on the life of Hildegard von Bingen a Benedictine Abbess, visionary, and polymath from the Middle Ages.The Vanishing Point is also historical fiction based on England and America in the mid 1600's to the early 1700's. I also grabbed Daughters of the Witching Hill which is based on the true story of the Pendle Witch Hunt of 1612 in England. Each book develops and highlights the lives of a woman or multiple women and gives the reader a glimpse into what is was like to be a woman and oftentimes a woman of ill repute at that time.

My favorite read thus far has been Illuminations, although all have been worth the read. I am fascinated by the Saints, especially women, and the middle ages specifically. I so enjoy reading a work of fiction that also gives me historical facts I can research and build upon. Illuminations was just such a book. Hildegard von Bingen was forced to be an anchorite alongside a wealthy young woman as her serving girl and under her tutelage. An anchorite is a person who lives in seclusion for religious purposes. Hildegard was walled (literally bricked in) into a two room space within a Monastery and lived that way for around 30 years until her patronage passed away. Now, living a busy life as an introvert and lover of learning, I must confess that once in awhile the idea of seclusion with a library at my disposal sounds wonderful, but to be forced to live in two rooms for thirty years - that is unimaginable. Yet, out of such an existence came a woman who was strong and who stood up for justice. It is truly a remarkable story.

I am curious what local authors Saranac Lake has? Any that you can recommend for me to pick up? Any favorites for the community that are necessarily local? If you are interested in learning more about Mary Sharratt and her works you can find more information here:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Power of a Good Book

One of my favorite authors is Annie Dillard. I can remember reading her novel Pilgrim at Tinker Creek for the first time in college and instantly falling in love with her language and style.  Still today there are parts from that novel that I can quote and that I reread from time to time for new insight and illumination. Such as: “There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end,” or “Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock—more than a maple—a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”

Recently, I saw an article come through on Facebook about why Generation Y-ers are so unhappy and Dillard’s writing came to the forefront yet again (You can find the article here: Now don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoy Facebook and what it offers: connecting and staying connected with those who are all over the world, literally. That being said I also think that Facebook can lend itself to unhappiness because Facebook is all about persona and persona is not real life. Facebook can encourage people to “make itsy-bitsy friends” and “diddle around.” This is why I love literature…why you might ask…how does literature help?

Literature challenges us to move outside of “diddling” and see and feel a world that is bigger than we are. We are faced with stories and experiences we would have never considered and known about without a story. Literature exposes us to perspectives and people we wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. Literature often opens up human nature and we see ourselves, and others, in a way we hadn’t before. Literature is beauty. It is art.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dream, and health, and quiet breathing”
                        - Keats, Endymion

All voracious readers have those works that have inspired them; works that they turn to when they need encouragement or even a sanctuary. I want to share a few of my favorites (I have many more than this!)…I would love to know some of yours. Who knows, maybe it will become my new favorite!

1. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard
2. The Sunday Philosophy Club Series – Alexander McCall Smith
3. The Chosen & The Gift of Asher Lev – Chaim Potok
4. Children of the Alley – Naguib Mahfouz
5. Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
6. Song of Myself – Walt Whitman
7. Walden – Henry David Thoreau
8. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bridging Cultures Initiative

How very exciting that SLFL is participating in Bridging Cultures initiative! This is an effort supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities that works to engage “the power of the humanities to promote understanding of and mutual respect for people with diverse histories, cultures, and perspectives within the United States and abroad.” This effort is being provided in collaboration with the American Library Association.

          “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys is a scholar-led reading and discussion program designed to foster opportunities for informed community conversations about the histories, faith, and cultures of Muslims around the world and within the United States.” The talk is designed around five books (you can find the list of books on the SLFL website here: and is organized into five themes. There is also Muslims Journey website that is available for participants that is devoted to enhancing understanding and generating ideas and thinking surrounding interaction with the five books. The website “offers online resources, including essays, videos, primary resources, interpretive articles, and suggestions for further reading.” The website can be found here:                      

          The introductory talk starts tomorrow, Monday, September 16th at 2pm in the Dickert room and thereafter will be held on the third Monday of the month at 2 p.m. I only wish I could be a part of this!                      

          This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. Living in Minneapolis, MN there is a very large Muslim Somali population. In fact, my next-door neighbors are Somali and it has been a wonderful blessing and full of “teachable” moments as we have interacted and learned from them. The Muslim faith includes many diverse and unique people groups that offer unique perspectives on life. It is unfortunate that much of what is known about Islamic culture in America is what is gleaned from the news, but it only paints one side of the story and is often centered on chaos and conflict. The fact is Muslims are people who live very real lives and have experiences common to all humanity. My neighbors’ lives are not centered on war. They are a culture within a culture, living out their lives and faith much like anyone else.                     

          Just the other day on 9/11 my children and I were remembering all whose lives were affected by the tragic events on that day. One story was particularly impactful for my son because of a memorial at the Mall of America (our local mall). It was the story of Flight 93 and how the actions of the passengers and crew thwarted the attack on the U.S. Capitol. My son said, “Mom, that’s what I call a hero.” A part of that conversation was the question, “why?” As I was answering that question to the best of my ability, I was very conscious of making sure my children understood the fullness of the Islamic community. I did not want them to have one, very narrow, view of Islam but to put the actions of a very small part of extremists into the larger, much richer, Islamic community. I wanted them to understand that our neighbors are peaceful people, as are the large percentage of Muslims, and that they are living their life just like us: working, going to school, loving family, creating, investing in the community, and playing. This is the kind of information I hope everyone knows and the reason I am so excited that SLFL is spreading the knowledge as a part of Bridging Cultures

Monday, September 9, 2013

Equal Access

I recently finished a book called Amy Signs written by Rebecca Willman Gernon and her daughter Amy Willman. In the synopsis of the book Rebecca Willman Gernon states, “Thirty-seven years ago, I vowed to write a truthful book about raising a deaf child.” This book goes beyond the parental perspective in that the reader is also given Amy Willman’s perspective. Amy is now a grown woman with a Master’s degree who works as a university professor, but her journey to get there was not without its trials.
I am a hearing person. It seems weird to write those words because in my limited world I have never thought of myself in those terms. My interactions with those who are deaf have been limited. Yet, after a year of working to become a librarian, my understanding of what equal access is has forced me to think and consider those who live in a world that isn’t “made” for them. I am ashamed that I haven’t considered it before, but I am so grateful for opportunity to make a difference now. Because of my education I have become determined to learn about the populations that need equal access: the elderly, the blind, the deaf, refugees, etc.
Amy Signs is a fairly quick read but full of information and at times very emotional. In reading it, I was struck by the educational struggle for parents of deaf children. The options are limited and children can be so very cruel to those who are different. I was also educated about the difference between a deaf person and a Deaf person. Overall, it is worth a read, it educates, informs, and is entertaining.

A few other possible reads on this topic are:

   As an African American woman born in 1943, Maxine Childress Brown possessed a unique vantage point to witness the transformative events in her parents’ lives. Both came from the South -- her father, Herbert Childress, from Nashville, TN, and her mother, Thomasina Brown, from Concord, NC. The oldest of three daughters, Maxine was fascinated by her parents’ stories. She marveled at how they raised a well-respected, middle-class family in the midst of segregation with the added challenge of being deaf.
Deaf-Blind Reality: Living the Life explores what life is really like for persons with a combination of vision and hearing loss, and in a few cases, other disabilities as well.